A story is told of a manager in a certain organization who ran the organization in a somewhat weird manner. He used to call people vulgar names, dictate their every move, monopolize decision-making and impose heavy penalties for human error. Employees’ feelings and opinions were of little concern to him. Soon, the employees branded him ‘Tafash’ a name I am told means trouble. Accessing the qualities of this manager against what I learnt in the unit, leadership, I concluded that this manager lacked leadership skills.
It is worthwhile to define the meaning of leadership before proceeding further. Leadership is the ability to inspire other people to act in a certain manner. Sharma & Agarwal describe leadership as the quality of an individual to guide people or their activities towards certain goals. (Sharma & Agarwal, 2005 p. 98). It is not merely the ability to guide people towards the achievement of certain goals, but rather winning their trust, confidence and respect. (Northouse, 2007). This is because it is possible to make people do things against their will by using threats and force, just as demonstrated by the story of tafash the manager.
herefore, it is important to note that there is a distinguishing aspect between management and leadership, the former deals in administrative tasks and coordination functions to meet goals while the latter deals in inspiring and motivating efforts of employees towards the set goals. However, most managers are also leaders. Leadership carries different meaning to different people. In my opinion, a leader analyses the desired goals and breaks it down to a manner understandable to the group then guides them to attainment of the goals.
From the illustration above, tafash lacks leadership qualities, hence need to point out the qualities of a leader. A good leader is influential and is able to inspire and motivate a group. In addition, he is also a quick decision maker, charismatic, good communicator as well as self-aware. His pragmatic skills are exceptional as also his interpersonal skills. (Prasad, 2006 p264) leadership skills may be inborn while others are learnt from experience. A combination of the two spells out “great leader.”
The importance of leadership in an organization cannot be ignored. Leadership gives direction and inspires commitment of efforts from a group hence greater productivity. The saying ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head puts the importance of leadership into perspective. A leader plays a diplomatic role outside the organization and ensures that a group’s objectives are achieved. Although the organization objectives are set at top level, the leader enables the group to see the big picture and work towards accomplishing the objectives. One thing to note is that, leadership is not a one man’s show and it is influenced by various variables such as social values, organization structure, the leaders influence, attitude of the followers, environmental influences among others. (Prasad, 2006)
Most organizations fail to realize that leadership is a form of partnership with group members. This means that power is shared almost equally among stakeholders and adoption of shared responsibility and decision-making. In order for this to exist, mutual respect, staff involvement and understanding need to be exercised. The way a leader behaves and his attitudes towards the group, affects the morale of the group. Back to the story of Tafash, his abusive and autocratic behavior is likely to affect performance of the members hence leading to low productivity or high turn over.
Accordingly, leaders must possess strong personalities and skills that influence organization behavior. However, they also possess weaknesses and limitations that they strive to overcome. In this case, Learning and discipline come into play. For instance, if the weakness is how academic qualifications, then it means effort should be put to achieving higher academic skills to polish leadership skills. For others, like Tafash, the weakness may be lack of self-control, and bad perception towards subordinates. This weakness can be corrected by changing ones perception and exercise self control and anger management. Perhaps anger management classes would do the trick. The essence of leadership is not to instill fear among people rather is to make them see how they stand to benefit and inspiring the power of ‘I can’ in people towards achieving goals set.
Leaders demonstrate different patterns of behavior and these behavior influences how the skills are applied. That is what leadership style is all about. In order to establish the kind a leadership style a leader uses one may study how the leader responds to various circumstances and situations that face the organization. In this way it is possible to predict his approach and his habit towards those in the organization. The major leadership styles are large faire, Auboratic and democratic. These styles vary differ depending on the orientation, authority, perception and motivation applied by the leader. For instance, if a leader exercises so much authority within every aspect of the organization then it can be said that his style is autocratic or dictatorial. On the other hand, a leader may be practice a hands off approach to leadership where by he lets the people be and do whatever they want and whenever they choose. Thus, this approach is said to be laizzes faire. The autocratic and laizzes faire approaches are extreme leadership styles and do not work well within an organization. There is need to balance between the level of freedom and authority within an organization and thus the democratic leadership style is applied.
Autocratic Leadership Style
This style is centralized and bureaucratic. A leader centers all power & decision making to himself and people in the workstation are supposed to do what they are told without questions. This leader influence effort towards his direction by using threats and consequences towards employees. Superiors who feel threatened of loosing face in presence of other qualified personnel are likely to adopt autocratic style to hide incompetence on their part. This sort of defense mechanism may be seen in criticizing remarks and monopolizing power within the organization. Another mild form of autocratic leadership style is the benevolent autocratic. This kind monopolizes power and decision-making but uses positive motivating factors. Normally, autocratic leadership style yield lower outcomes, low morale and high turnover rate. However are advantages associated to this leadership style. For instance it take control of a situation during a crisis, allows fast decision-making; and is appropriate for people who lack self directing skills or are incompetent to handle tasks such as planning and decision making.
Generally, autocratic leadership style is an inefficient method. The only person who benefits from this style of leadership is the manager. This technique is rigid and not accommodative to innovation. The modern professional is a highly literate one and prefers to take a proactive approach in handling tasks. This implies that with time autocratic leadership will have no place in the organization as professionals become literal and less acquiescent to dictation from seniors.
This form of leadership is an absent kind of style i.e. the leader leaves the group to run on its own principles and approach. This means group members set their own goals and make their own decisions. The laizzes faire leader is a power averse one and fears responsibility of making decisions on others behalf. He offers no inspiration, direction, motivation or communication. Often the term free rein is used in place of lazier faire emphasizing the aspect of complete freedom. The managers’ role is solely to provide information and resources required by the organization. On one hand, this style is appropriate when the leader wants to train the subordinates to be in dependent and responsible members of the organization notably, this style of leadership is highly influential when used on its own. Hardly will any productivity occur in such organizations. On the other hand, some tasks can be run using laizzes faire approach but only on occasionally basis.
Democratic leadership style
It is also called the participative or consultative leadership style. This kind of leadership style adopts a decentralized power and decision-making process and emphasizes on exchange of ideas, staff involvement in decision-making process and emphases on exchange of ideas, staff involvement in decision making processes as well as shared responsibility within the organization. Modern organizations utilize this style as it works well both for the management and for employees. One distinctive feature about this leadership style is that it lays emphasis on multilateral decision-making. Employees are provided with information about change within the organization, objectives and goals and such like, and then asked to give their input on the matter. The system is highly participative and employees are recognized as important people within the organization. There is an element of mutual respect between superiors and subordinate and good performance is given credit to while mistakes are used as learning experience and not reason to impose penalties like in the autocratic leadership style.
(Kumar & mittal, 2002)(Kumar & mittal, 2002)(Kumar & mittal, 2002)(Kumar & mittal, 2002)(Kumar & mittal, 2002)(Kumar & mittal, 2002) A risk averge leader is mostly autocratic and his effectiveness is limited. A leader who fosters creativity, independent and calculated risk taking has greater likehood of being effective and productive that the one who is not.
Leadership is important to any organization. Nonetheless it faces challenges from the various variables a fore mentioned. Yet the greatest challenge from the 21st century leader is responding to globalization, information technology resolution, multiculturalism and knowledge explosion ((Kumar & mittal, 2002)) change in normal circumstances faces resistance due to the uncertainty and fear of the unknown. However, the 21st century changes are inevitable and it is up to leaders to direct group members incorporating these changes and inspire confidence and competences. The fact that the changes may also be new to the leader makes this a challenge. Additionally, variables like globalization and information technology change vary fast and this may require a leader to make fast and accurate decision. Further compounds the challenge facing leadership. It is under these circumstances that leader’s pragmatic and decision-making skills are tested.
A seasoned leader would have minimal problem to inspire others to move to a given direction, for a new leaders, it may mean steeples nights for sometime. Thus it is important that leaders in the sector of interest. How-to-books are examples of books that may be helpful to someone seeking to develop leadership skills.
Conceptual information demonstrated. This requires interaction of the leader with other leaders and exchange of experiences. It may also take the form of observation of a leader in action. Experimental exercise and feed back from others. A leader may experiment on different approaches to leadership and draw feedback from people on how effective it was. He may also gauge the impact of the different approaches using qualitative or quantitative outcomes and choose a style that maximizes skill possessed.
Leasers deal with change, inspiration motivation and influence. They require skills that enable them to gain support, trust and confidence to channel effort to achieve goals. From a personal perspective, I believe I have leadership skills. People approach me for advice and assistance in brainstorming an idea. Perhaps, my strength is the fact that I am an extrovert and enjoy team approach in tackling situations. People learn a lot from each other and a leader role should be to direct and facilitate activities towards the goal set. Team spirit is important to me. Leaders have exemplary interpersonal skills and are able to motivate others when their morale is down. I believe I have this quality. The fun part is representing peoples need to higher authority and with many people from different cultures. I am still poor at communicating with others when their morale is down. I believe I have this quality. The fun part is representing peoples needs to higher authority and resolving conflicts within my college. The great challenge is dealing with many people from different cultures. I am still port at communicating with these people hence a challenge.
Leadership is crucial to any organization’s success. As seen, the effectiveness of leadership depends upon variables and good leader is able to work around the various variables to achieve the set goals. One important fact to remember is that topic on leadership is broad and touches on the orientation, style, and integration with management functions. Leadership is a long-term endeavor and leaders should always make changes in the styles.
Leadership does not exist in a vacuum. Leadership effectiveness is a function of various variables i.e. the followers, group members, situations and the leader himself. Good leadership has the potential of transforming poor performing organization to a leader in an industry.
According to Prascal, leadership traits, behaviors, internal and external environment, and group members characteristic capture the leadership framework.
The effectiveness of a leader implies his ability to achieve set goals and overcome barriers in a given situation. Leadership effectiveness depends on the above-mentioned variables and the ideal outcome should be satisfaction, quality output and productivity within the organization.
Leadership characteristics encompass inner traits such as confidence, interpersonal and communication skills. On the other hand, leader’s behavior and style refers to repeated pattern of activity and the response to situations and these behaviors and characteristics affect effectiveness greatly.
The group members’ characteristics influence the effectiveness of leaders in the sense that positive characteristics. For example, motivated, disciplined and intelligent people, compliment leadership hence effectiveness. Unwilling, illiterate and lazy people reduce the effectiveness of a leader regardless of his extemporary skills. As pointed out earlier, leadership does not exist in a vacuum. The environment influences leadership effectiveness. If n organization is composed of people from different cultures then the leader requires cross-cultural skills to be effective. If the job environment is stressful, then the leader’s effectiveness will depend on how well he is able to inspire group members to be resilient and motivated. Personality also influences leadership style and effectiveness. For instance, extroverts who like thinking aloud and socializing tend to warm and attract crowds. Hence, they are likely to have a people oriented approach of leadership. The style will also vary depending on the capability and intelligence of the people within the organizations
Ahuja K. (2005) Personnel Management. Kalyani Publishers. Calcutta.
Kumar, N. & Mittal, R. (2002). Organizational Behavior. Anmol Publications, PVT LTD.
Northouse, P.G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications.
Sharma & Agarwal. (2005) World Famous Quotations.Sulabh Publications. Agra. P.98-99
Prasad LM. (2006). Organizational Behavior. Educational publishers. Daryaganj. P. 262-387.
Appendix 1: Leadership is the ability to inspire people to work towards a certain direction
“Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure.”
– Admiral Arleigh A. Burke. (www.nwlink.com)
Appendix 2: Management deals in administrative tasks and coordination functions to meet goals and leadership deals in inspiring and motivating efforts of employees towards the set goals.
Appendix 3: Good leaders possess the following qualities, charismatic, pragmatic, decision-making skills, interpersonal skills and communication skills.
Appendix 4: Leadership does not operate in a vacuum. Several factors shape the effectiveness of leadership namely, environment, followers behavior, economic conditions, organization structure and the leaders qualities and traits.
[Source: Taken from, Prasad LM, (2006) Organizational Behavior, Fig 26.1 p 287]
Appendix 5: There are three major dimensions of leadership styles. They include autocratic, laizzes faire and democratic leadership style.
Appendix 6: Leadership styles vary in degree of authority employed by the leader and the area of freedom accorded to subordinates
Continuum of leadership
BY THE BOSS
7. MANAGER LETS SUBORDINATES FUNCTION
WITHIN LIMITS DEFINED BY HIM
6. MANAGER DEFINES LIMITSAND ASKS FOR GROUP DECISIONS
5. MANAGER PRESENTS PROBLEMS, SUGGESTIONS
AND MAKES DECISIONS
4. MANAGER OFFERS TENTATIVE DECISIONS TO CHANGE
3. MANAGER PRESENTS IDEAS AND INVITES QUESTIONS
2. MANAGER SELLS DECISIONS
1. MANAGER MAKES AND ANNOUNCES DECISIONS
[Source: Taken from, Ahuja K. (2005) Personnel Management. Fig 6 p 621
Appendix 7: leadership faces challenges from the environment they operate. These challenges accrue from changes in technology, multiculturalism, globalization and knowledge explosion
Appendix 8: leadership is a long term process